The rainy days are here (darn!) so there could be no weekend outdoor trips for a while. Maybe I'll try some touristy destinations down southwest (I do shift to tourist mode once in a while, but still no fancy resorts, and definitely no Boracay!). A favorite destination of mine is Puerto Princesa. Been there (regularly) for a couple of years now and might "escape" there for a couple of days when the storm season goes full swing.
A 3-day weekend is usually enough to take a tour of the sights in Puerto Princesa. A usual itinerary may look like this:
Day 1 (Honda Bay)
Take an early morning flight to Puerto Princesa. If you fly Cebu Pacific you can be there around 9-9:30. Plenty of time to spare for a day of beach and sun in Honda Bay. Get a tricycle and head to Honda Bay Wharf (30-40 minutes travel time). You can drop your bags in your hotel (if you are the type who travels with tons of baggage) on the way to the wharf. From there you can get a boat for a whole day of island hopping (Php1200-1500).
I usually just head straight to Snake Island - a marine research outpost (and a fish sanctuary). You can feed schools of fish with bread even at waist deep waters, they are very friendly and are used to humans.
Last time we were there we saw a large school of jacks (thousands of them) around this area (see photo above). The guides in the island will gladly lead you to your "choice" of fish to see: from jacks, to surgeon fish, to "Nemos" (clown fishes) :D.
You won't need serious diving gears. All you'll need are your flippers, your mask, and several pieces of bread. The fishes will come you, except for the jacks. They just go around and around in a imaginary circle. We had fun"following" them that day. (BTW you can buy fresh catch in one of the sari sari stores there and have it cooked to your liking)
On the way back to the wharf (after you have had your fill at Snake Island) you can pass by the Pambato Coral Reef (just in front of Luli Island, docking fee is 50 pesos per person). The variety of corals there is amazing.
Day 2 (Underground River, the easy way)
For this one you can take can join a tour group for convenience (Php 1200.00, including lunch). Its a 3 hour travel to Sabang - the jump off point to the underground river, officially known as St. Paul Subterranean Underground River National Park.
Its a short banca ride from Sabang to the underground river (there is a hike trail from Sabang if you want an adventure).
Its a quick exploration of the underground river (20 - 30 minutes). Sometimes the queuing for the boats takes longer. It is one of longest subterranean river in the world, 8.2 km are navigable but tourists are only allowed up to the 4 km mark.
You should do this tour only ONCE (although I did it twice hehehe). Its going to be boring the second time, the routine is all too familiar. You will also tend to preempt all the jokes of the bangkero (boatman) on your second tour hehe.
By 3 PM you will be in Puerto Princesa again. You can head to Mitra's farm for some scenic views of Honda Bay or pig out on pastries in Baker's Hill (very accessible by tricycle).
Day 3 (around Puerto Princesa)
There's a lot of choices for the last day (make sure your flight back to Manila is after lunch). You can spend the morning dolphin watching, or you can hire a tricycle and head to the Crocodile farm (not much to see there last time I went, no more petting the baby crocs). If you want cheap pasalubongs you can head to Iwahig Prison Farm (45 minutes, same direction as the Croc farm).
There is also a nice coffee shop/garden/art gallery called Kamarikutan just a couple minutes walk from the airport. You can head there after you have checked in your baggage.